Class is in session at the Squamish Yacht Club (SYC) this summer.
But there are no pens, books or teachers with dirty looks in this classroom. According to the SYC’s Trevor Chelswick, it’s all about learning how to navigate Squamish’s challenging yet fun waters.
“Usually sailing isn’t an extreme sport but here it definitely could be considered that because of our windy conditions,” he said. “If you learn how to sail here, you can sail anywhere, which is why you see so many clubs coming here to train.”
The SYC is offering two courses for youth this summer, including a one-week introduction to sailing and kayaking for those aged seven to 10 and a two-week white sail certification program for ages 10 to 14.
“The younger class has been in place for a few years now and has been really successful,” he said. “We use our Optimist boats that are made out of plastic instead of fiberglass and it’s more of an introduction course for beginners.”
Chelswick said the two-week course for the older kids will see them use top-of-the-line equipment and get a chance to really experience Squamish’s waters.
“That course is really where you get focused on sailing and learn how to sail,” he said. “You have two weeks out there and it blows you away how quickly the kids learn.”
He pointed out that three of the kids in the two-week course are also helping to mentor youngsters in the one-week course, which is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“Some of these kids earned their two-week course by helping with the younger kids and it’s great for us because these are the kids that can eventually become instructors themselves,” he said.
Chelswick said last year’s Legacy Fund money has helped the SYC better accommodate some of the older beginners. The $30,000 helped buy two Pirate and 420 boats, which are world-class training boats for older or bigger kids.
“Everyone loves the new equipment,” he said. “We literally weren’t able to offer courses beyond a certain age or size. We’re now able to offer programs for the older kids and even adults can use these boats. Before the money, once you turned 10 there was nowhere to go. The money has really opened up sailing for a lot of people.”
Upcoming one-week sessions start on July 9 and 16, with the two-week course starting on July 23 and Aug. 7.
For more details on the SYC and the courses, visit www.squamishyachtclub.com.